Megyn Kelly’s days at NBC’s ‘To­day’ are over

Ex-Fox News star de­parts net­work af­ter tur­bu­lent run

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Nation&world - By Stephen Battaglio Los An­ge­les Times

NEW YORK — NBC News an­nounced its pro­fes­sional divorce agree­ment with Megyn Kelly late Fri­day, end­ing an as­so­ci­a­tion with the for­mer Fox News Chan­nel star whose at­tempt to be­come a net­work morn­ing tele­vi­sion star as part of the “To­day” show floun­dered.

Terms of her de­par­ture were not dis­closed, but peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions said the for­mer morn­ing show host is leav­ing with the money she was owed on her con­tract, which is said to be about $30 mil­lion.

She's been off the air since Oc­to­ber af­ter cre­at­ing a furor by sug­gest­ing that it was OK for white peo­ple to wear black­face on Hal­loween, and exit ne­go­ti­a­tions had dragged for two months over the hol­i­days. Even be­fore the con­tro­ver­sial com­men­tary, her fu­ture was con­sid­ered lim­ited at NBC News.

“The par­ties have re­solved their dif­fer­ences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an em­ployee of NBC,” the net­work said in a state­ment Fri­day night.

NBC says she'll be re­placed in the third hour of the “To­day” show by an­chors Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dy­lan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.

Her ten­ure was also a fail­ure for NBC News Chairman An­drew Lack, who lured her from Fox News Chan­nel with the type of big-money con­tract that was once stan­dard in tele­vi­sion news but now is less so with fi­nan­cial con­stric­tions and less view­er­ship. In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman's land: some at NBC were sus­pi­cious of her be­cause of her Fox News back­ground, while her for­mer au­di­ence at Fox re­sented her for tough ques­tion­ing of Don­ald Trump on the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign trail.

While at Fox, her ac­cu­sa­tions of un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances by the net­work's late chief ex­ec­u­tive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his fir­ing.

She made news at NBC when in­ter­view­ing women who ac­cused Trump of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior and spoke with ac­cusers of Har­vey We­in­stein, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and oth­ers, as well as women who say they were ha­rassed on Capi­tol Hill. The episode with Trump ac­cusers had more than 2.9 mil­lion view­ers, one of her big­gest au­di­ences on the net­work.

While she earned ku­dos for pro­vid­ing a plat­form for harass­ment vic­tims, she be­gan to ran­kle “To­day” col­leagues when she ag­gres­sively pur­sued seg­ments on the sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions against fired “To­day” co-an­chor Matt Lauer and the news divi­sion's elder states­man Tom Brokaw.

Also not win­ning her any friends in­ter­nally was er call for Lack to ap­point out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tors to look into why the net­work didn't air Ro­nan Far­row's sto­ries about Har­vey We­in­stein and al­lowed Far­row to take his story to The New Yorker.

When those sto­ries be­gan to fade, Kelly had trou­ble at­tract­ing an au­di­ence in the soft-fo­cus world of morn­ing tele­vi­sion. She also briefly hosted an evening news­magazine that didn't catch on with view­ers

Kelly made a tear­ful apol­ogy to view­ers fol­low­ing her black­face com­ments, but it proved to be her last ap­pear­ance on NBC News.

“What is racist?” she said on the show. “Truly, you do get in trou­ble if you are a white per­son who puts on black­face on Hal­loween or a black per­son who puts on white­face for Hal­loween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dress­ing up as a char­ac­ter.”

Crit­ics ac­cused her of ig­nor­ing the ugly his­tory of min­strel shows and movies in which whites ap­plied black­face to mock blacks.

It's not im­me­di­ately clear what's next for Kelly.

There's no non-com­pete clause, mean­ing Kelly is free to seek other tele­vi­sion work if she wants to.

NATHAN CONGLETON/NBC

“The par­ties have re­solved their dif­fer­ences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an em­ployee of NBC,” the net­work said.

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